Hartismere School

Est. 1451. An outstanding coeducational secondary school & sixth form college and England's first academy

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GCSE Computer Science

What is it all about?

Broadly, computer science is the study of how computer systems work and the impact they have. A computer can be a desktop PC, mobile phone, tablet or even a games console. We learn how these operate, how to program them to follow our instructions, how they can be linked to create networks and the wide ranging impacts of technology.

What do we study?

The course is split into two units: 

1. Computer systems: The study of how computer systems work

Systems architecturethe operation of the CPU, how performance is measured and the structure and workings of embedded systems.

Memory and storagewhere and how data is stored in a computer. The operation of RAM, ROM and secondary storage devices, such as HDD and SSD. How and why data is stored in binary format, what this means for audio and images and how data can be compressed to save space and reduce download times.

Computer networks, connections and protocolshow networks are formed, the devices required and different what in which networks can be structured. How a network or device can connect the internet and the services that the internet provides. How data is transmitted between devices over networks and the internet and the rules that govern this.

Network securitythe dangers that are present once a device is connected to a network and the internet and how to identify and prevent these dangers.

Systems softwarethe role and functions of the operating system and utility software that instruct and support the hardware.

Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impacts of digital technologythe wider impacts of technology, including environmental and privacy issues, and the laws that have been introduced to safeguard individuals and organisations.

2. Computational thinking, algorithms and programming: Quite simply, programming. Creating our own code and learning how to interpret existing code.

Algorithmslearning how to take a real world problem and create a computer-based solution for it by developing algorithms. Learning the operation of standard search and sort algorithms.

Programming fundamentalsprogramming using high level languages, mostly python but including C# and SQL. Developing the ability and experience in programming using branching, iteration, sub programs, a range of data types, data structures (including 2D arrays) and file operations.

Producing robust programslearning how to ensure created code is robust and includes a range of validation and verification techniques. Understanding the importance of testing in both refining code and ensuring it is fit for purpose.

Boolean logicuse of the operators AND, OR and NOT. Combining the boolean operators together to form logic diagrams and how this is linked to the operation of the CPU.

Programming languages and Integrated Development Environmentsthe purpose and characteristics of high and low level programming languages and the need for code to be translated into machine code. Features of integrated development environments that improve the productivity of developers.

Why would it be useful?

What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? For the majority it would be checking their phone. Our lives are embedded in technology and so are modern jobs. Computers are not going anywhere so the more we understand about how they work and how to make them work for us, the more productive we can be. A basic understanding of computers will remove the fear that will provide the confidence to make your own upgrades, saving money, much like knowledge of how cars operate will reduce the number of visits to the garage (and you would be more likely to spot if someone is charging you more than necessary). Computer science can help with every career path, but there are also a massive range of jobs available within the subject area, with most of them not actually programming. Every business uses computers and needs people to deal with the range of issues and maintenance they require. Cyber security, database management, network management, web developers, troubleshooting, social media management and, of course, software developers are required for pretty much every business. There are also the computing companies who require more specialised workers in areas such as hardware development and research. There is also the growth of AI, which is only going to lead to a greater range of opportunities. 

After GCSE, you can continue your computer science journey with us by studying A level computer science. We have had many students then continue to study the subject at university, begin apprenticeships with organisations such as BT or even go straight into jobs after sixth form.

We follow the OCR specification

Revision for computer science Including: 1.6 Systems Security Flashcards | Quizlet 1.3 Computer networks, connections and protocols Flashcards | Quizlet Craig n Dave revision videos (Youtube)

Programming Including: Coding Challenges for GCSE and A Level Computer Science

CPU Fetch-Decode-Execute Animation

In this section...

A Level Computer Science

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Online Little Man Computer - CPU simulator

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Sorting Visualiser

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